The clock that will lead the nation to the beginning of the yearlong celebration of the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman started ticking across Bangladesh on Friday afternoon. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the countdown of the ‘Mujib Barsho’ or ‘Mujib Year’ at the Old Airport where Bangabandhu first touched the soil of his independent Bangladesh on his return home from captivity in Pakistan on January 10, 1972, 24 days after independence. The day is celebrated as his historic Homecoming Day.
According to Mujib Barsho Celebration National Implementation Committee, the countdown began simultaneously in every district, upazila and municipalities. In this regard, the government installed countdown clocks in 28 city corporations, 53 districts, including one in Tungipara, the birthplace of Bangabandhu, and one in Mujibnagar, where the war-time government was formed.
Many ministries, divisions, departments, socio-cultural organisations and public and private universities have also set up devices through their own initiatives. The celebration is aimed at presenting the life and works of Bangabandhu before the world. Through the celebration, the government will also rebrand the country highlighting significant successes it made in the past years.
Bangabandhu was arrested by the Pakistani forces on March 26 in 1971 after he proclaimed independence in Bangladesh following a genocide carried out by the Pakistani military on the midnight of March 25. Right after the proclamation, he was arrested and taken to a Pakistani prison.
Pakistan was forced to release him under immense international pressure on January 8. On that very day, Bangabandhu traveled to London on his way to Dhaka. There, at a crowded press conference in his hotel in London, he spoke to the world press and on January 9, met the British Prime Minister, Edward Heath.
Prior to returning to Dhaka, he stopped over at Delhi, where the Indian President V. V. Giri and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi welcomed him with grace. When the Father of the Nation reached Dhaka on January 10, millions of grateful citizens of the newest country in the world welcomed him with open arms.
He went straight from the airport to the Race Course Maidan now renamed Suhrawardy Udyan, where he addressed the independent people of his nation for the first time. Inaugurating the countdown for yearlong celebration of the life of the undisputed leader of the nation, the prime minister asked the people to work concertedly to materialize the dream of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
“Bangabandhu had handed over the victory torch to us and we want to move forward with it,” she said at the Old Airport where hundreds of thousands of people gathered to witness the symbolic show of Bangabandhu’s return. The yearlong celebration will also touch the life of country’s people in various ways in addition to the festivity.
Dr Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury, chief coordinator of the Birth Centenary Celebration National Implementation Committee, recently said that they have already requested all the ministries to come up with plans that will touch people’s life. “We have already selected 299 proposals,” he had said. “We are providing necessary supports to implement the programmes”.
The health ministry already instructed all government hospitals to set up a help desk center named as ‘Bangabandhu corner’ to offer special services to the people during the Mujib Barsho.